Indianapolis native Terry McLaurin excited for homecoming vs. Colts

McLaurin excited for homecoming in Indianapolis originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

ASHBURN, Va. — From elementary school through his freshman year of high school, Washington Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin spent many Sunday afternoons in the fall sitting in section 540 of Lucas Oil Stadium, cheering on his favorite NFL team.

For those years of McLaurin’s childhood, his parents had Indianapolis Colts season tickets; those gameday experiences were when he first fell in love with football. McLaurin quickly became a fan of Colts star receiver Marvin Harrison, one of two people the Commanders standout said he’s been “starstruck” by after having the chance to meet him when his son, Marvin Harrison Jr., was getting recruited by Ohio State.

For the first time in his four-year NFL career, McLaurin will have the chance to play in his hometown on Sunday when Washington travels to Indianapolis. Speaking with local media following Wednesday’s practice, McLaurin didn’t hide that this weekend’s matchup will carry some extra meaning for him and his family.

“I try to do a good job of just focusing on what’s really important. Winning this game is the most important thing,” McLaurin said. “But I’d be lying if I said it’s not kind of cool to go back to where I grew up, where my affinity for football started. … You just never know where your journey is going to be. You couldn’t have told me when I was seven years old that I’d be playing in the NFL. Getting to share that moment with my family and my close friends, that’s pretty cool.”

This Week 8 contest between the Commanders and Colts is something the 27-year-old has had circled on his calendar since the NFL released its schedule in May. The wide receiver smartly got ahead of his ticket requests, making this week a lot more stress-free than it otherwise could have been.

“Seeing the schedule this year and the Indy game, it’s away, that was a pretty cool moment,” McLaurin said. “My next thought was ‘I got to get on these tickets right now.’ I already know it’s going to be crazy. That’s the fun part about it. I get to share this moment with some of the people that have helped me get to where I’m at today.”

McLaurin estimated that roughly 70 people will be in attendance to watch him play, from family members to old teammates and coaches. McLaurin himself purchased multiple tickets for his inner circle, something he joked was easier on his wallet after signing a three-year, $71 million extension with the Commanders this past July.

“I was fortunate to be able to help a lot of people out and take care of those tickets. I don’t necessarily do that a lot, but this offseason kind of helped to be able to afford that,” a smiling McLaurin said.

Although McLaurin has yet to play in Lucas Oil Stadium as an NFL player, this Sunday’s matchup is far from the first time he’s suited up for a game at the venue. His high school, Cathedral, won Indiana state titles at the stadium all four years he was there (McLaurin was also named the state’s Mr. Football in 2013). Then at Ohio State, McLaurin played at the stadium twice, once in 2017 and once in 2018, when the Buckeyes won the Big Ten championship game.

McLaurin has had plenty of individual success at Lucas Oil Stadium, too. In 2017, he was the Buckeyes’ leading receiver in the school’s Big Ten title win over Wisconsin, recording 92 yards and a touchdown. In the conference championship one year later, McLaurin hauled in three passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-21 Ohio State victory over Northwestern.

When McLaurin was going through the pre-draft process in the spring of 2019, he admitted he thought there was a chance the Colts could select him. But in the second round of the 2019 Draft, Indianapolis drafted Parris Campbell, his Ohio State teammate and former roommate. Once the Colts chose Campbell, McLaurin figured a homecoming to Indianapolis was unlikely.

Seventeen picks later, Washington selected McLaurin in the third round. The rest is history.

“The opportunity presented itself to where I was going to get drafted here,” McLaurin said. “I had the opportunity to come in here and earn my spot really early. I’m not regretful or sad about any way how things went because I feel like I’m in the right place where I need to be.”

Three seasons, two 1,000-yard campaigns and a lucrative contract extension later, it’s safe to say that Commanders fans agree.

McLaurin turned in his best single-game performance of 2022 this past Sunday, recording five catches for 73 yards and a touchdown in Washington’s 23-21 triumph over Green Bay. McLaurin’s outing included two clutch receptions on Washington’s final drive, with the latter essentially icing the game. It’s also no coincidence that the wideout’s strong outing came with Taylor Heinicke, the quarterback that’s targeted him the most of any signal-caller in his career, under center for the first time this season.

Heinicke, who had the chance to experience his own NFL homecoming when Washington visited Atlanta last fall, didn’t know this Sunday will be McLaurin’s first time playing in Indianapolis as a pro. He’s confident Washington’s top wideout will be ready for the opportunity and everything that comes with it.

“Hopefully he puts on a show like he did on Sunday. I think that’ll be great,” Heinicke said. “I’m sure his whole family is going to be there. If he can keep making plays like that, I think it’ll be a special one for him.”

Throughout his 13-minute long session with the media on Wednesday, McLaurin emphasized multiple times that while Sunday’s homecoming will certainly be special for him, he can’t let the storyline get in the way of the task at hand: beating the Colts.

“For me, I really don’t try to make the moment too big,” McLaurin said. “It’s cool, but at the end of the day, it’s not cool if you lose. It’s not cool if you’re so focused on the extracurriculars that you don’t get your job done. As a leader and the player I want to be, I always want to keep the main thing the main thing.”


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